Kerala govt announces ₹10 lakh to kin of man killed in wild elephant attack as Cong demands minister’s resignation

Opposition leader VD Satheesan alleged that the Left government is ignoring the people's grievances and difficulties and has "covered its eyes, ears and hearts" to the plight of those affected by the wildlife menace.


Published Feb 11, 2024 | 9:20 AMUpdatedFeb 11, 2024 | 9:20 AM

Wayanad Collector Renu Raju

The Kerala government on Saturday, 10 February, announced ₹10 lakh compensation and assured a job to one of the family members of the 42-year-old man, who was trampled to death by a wild elephant at Mananthavady in the Wayanad district.

The Opposition Congress, meanwhile, demanded the resignation of Forest Minister AK Saseendran

A major protest broke out at Mananthavady over the death, with the locals taking it to the streets with the body of Aji, who died at the Mananthavady Medical College where he was admitted following the attack that occurred at around 7.30 am on Saturday.

However, after the announcement of various relief assured by the government, the agitators ended their protest and handed over the body for post-mortem.

Minister Saseendran announced that the government will take care of the education of the two children of the deceased.

District Collector Renu Raj, who held the conciliatory talks with the protesters, told the media that the demand for ₹50 lakh as compensation will be forwarded for the consideration of the government.

“We will hand over ₹10 lakh compensation on Monday. The district authorities will send a recommendation to provide a permanent job for his wife,” Raj said.

Related: Man killed in wild elephant attack in Kerala’s Wayanad

Special team formed

Meanwhile, a special team has been constituted to capture the wild elephant which the government assured will be shifted to the Muthanga elephant camp.

Saseendran said based on the previous experience in connection with the capture of Thanneer Komban, the special task force will be cautious in handling this elephant.

He said the forest officials have started the process to capture the animal.

Also Read: Captured wild elephant ‘Thanneer Komban’ dies in Bandipur

Rahul Gandhi decries lack of action plan

Meanwhile, Wayanad MP and senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi expressed shock at the “untimely demise” of Panachiyil Aji from Payyampally near Mananthavady.

“Another life has been tragically lost in Wayanad due to a wildlife attack. He was the sole breadwinner of his family and the primary caregiver to his mother. My heart goes out to his family, especially his ailing mother and young children,” Gandhi posted on X.

He said the spate of wildlife attacks, especially elephant attacks have caused tremendous damage to the lives and livelihoods of the people in Wayanad and that they have paid a huge price due to the rising instances of human-animal conflict.

“We have repeatedly demanded for intervention to mitigate such attacks in Wayanad, particularly to protect our farmers. However, the lack of a comprehensive action plan to tackle this issue has only aggravated the conflict. I urge the Central and State governments to take decisive steps and put in place a response mechanism that can protect both our communities and the wildlife of the region,” Gandhi posted.

Also Read: Life in the shadow of sabre-toothed predators

Prohibitory orders in Mananthavady

The CCTV visuals of the incident showed Aji and others trying to escape from the wild elephant and jumping into the compound of a house. However, the jumbo destroyed the compound wall and chased the man.

Kumki elephants guiding Thanneer Komban to a waiting wildlife ambulance. (X)

Locals alleged that the elephant crossed the Kerala border from Karnataka and reached Kuruvadweep locality early in the morning but the Forest department failed to announce the same and warn the people from venturing out.

Currently, the district administration has issued prohibitory orders in multiple wards of Mananthavady.

Recently, an elephant from Karnataka, called ‘Thanneer Komban’, fitted with a radio collar had ventured into Mananthavady town and roamed the streets for over 16 hours after which it was tranquilised. However, upon being shifted to Karnataka, that elephant died.

Saseendran had earlier termed the death of the man ‘shocking’ and said the frequent news of man-animal conflict coming from Wayanad was a
matter of concern.

On Friday night, a forest wildlife watcher was grievously injured in a tiger attack and he is undergoing treatment, he said.

Also Read: All-party meeting seeks to raise compensation paid to man-animal conflict victims

Congress lambasts government

Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress said the Left government in Kerala was acting as a mute spectator to the man-animal conflicts in the state that have claimed many lives and destroyed property and crops in areas close to forests.

Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly VD Satheesan alleged in Kasaragod on Saturday that neither the minister, who is also in-charge of the Wayanad district, nor his department were doing anything to save the lives and livelihoods of people living close to the forests as man-animal conflicts keep rising in the state.

The opposition leader further alleged that the state government has not compensated anyone for several months for the loss of lives and property and crops in animal attacks.

“He (minister) is not qualified to hold the post. He should resign,” Satheesan demanded while speaking to the media on the sidelines of the Congress party’s party’s statewide electioneering march, ‘Samaragni’.

He alleged that the Left government was not looking at the people’s grievances and difficulties and has “covered its eyes, ears and hearts” to the plight of those affected.

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